Oh baby, how things have changed

» Jim Chase

Our daughter and son-in-law will be having their first baby just about one month from today. Although it will be our fourth grandchild, it will be the first to live within an easy drive from us. You see, our other three grand-munchkins live heart-wrenchingly far away in Hawaii. My wife and I are not extreme swimmers, we don’t own a boat or have stock in an airline, so we visit them far less often than we would like.

Suffice it to say that this next and newest grandchild will have no shortage of time or attention lavished upon it’s cuddly little self. In fact, the fun has already begun with the recent celebration of a baby shower that was thrown for our daughter and her soon-to-arrive child.

Now, I was told that it’s bad form to show up for a baby shower without a large gift in hand (apparently providing chicken salad, croissant sandwiches, a big honkin’ fresh fruit platter and homemade gourmet cupcakes wasn’t enough!) So that’s how my dear wife and I found ourselves a few days before the shower wandering the aisles of a super-baby-warehouse store in the Los Feliz area of Glendale.

I have to tell you, the visit to the store was an eye opener. Granted, it’s been quite a while since my kids were babies (there’s a joke here, but my kids swear they read this column at least occasionally so I’ll refrain), but I simply wasn’t prepared for what I saw wandering the aisles of this store. I mean, I remember that when there were only a few basics one had to have as a new parent.  You needed a crib, possibly a bassinette to have near your own bed when you first brought the baby home, a relative gave you a hand-me-down dresser for the baby’s clothes, and you got a big spongy pad thing that you put in the kitchen sink and laid the baby on to bath it. If you really wanted to equip a baby’s room, you got one of those rickety changing tables with the cheapo foam pad on top and a shelf for thousands of diapers underneath.

New parents also needed half a dozen or so baby bottles, a couple of pacifiers, a stroller and a car seat. That’s pretty much it, unless you truly wanted to spoil a kid with one of those swings guaranteed to put even the most colicky kid to sleep in minutes. (But seriously, weren’t those blessed wind-up-baby-sitters invented for parents more than babies?) Oh, and you absolutely, positively needed a diaper pail of some kind. A big, easy-to-empty diaper pail to contain all the little neutron stink bomb bundles of joy, each with the power to instantly bring a fully grown, testosterone-soaked man to his knees begging for mercy and fresh air.

By the time our fourth child was born, the list of have-to-haves had grown to include a portable play pen (you know, the kind that never, ever fold back up as neatly and compactly as when you first take it out of the box). You also needed some sort of electronic baby monitor to eavesdrop on your spouse as they wrongfully whined to the baby about what a slacker you were for not getting up at 3 a.m. to check on him/her even though you did it already at 1:30 and your wife slept soundly through the entire incident and you didn’t get any “what-a-good-dad” credit like you deserved. Not that this happened to me. Much.

Anyway, that’s the sort of equipment we needed twenty or so years ago in order to bring up baby. Apparently, today’s babies need a whole lot more stuff. So much more, in fact, that I need next week’s column to discuss the catalog of goodies it apparently takes to be a parent in 2010. Hang on to your wallet, and I’ll see you ‘round town.

Jim Chase is an award-winning advertising copywriter and lifetime CV resident. Find him online at www.wordchaser.com.